Rossano Gospels

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Uncial 042
New Testament manuscript
Christ comes before Pilate
Christ comes before Pilate
Name Purpureus Rossanensis
Sign Σ
Text Matthew, Mark
Date 6th century
Script Greek
Found 1879, Rossano
Now at Diocesan Museum, Rossano Cathedral
Size 188 folios; 31 x 26 cm; 20 lines; 2 col.
Type Byzantine text-type
Category V
Note close to N (022)

The Rossano Gospels, designated by 042 or Σ (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), ε 18 (Soden), at the cathedral of Rossano in Italy, is a 6th-century illuminated manuscript Gospel Book written following the reconquest of the Italian peninsula by the Byzantine Empire. Also known as Codex purpureus Rossanensis due to the reddish-purple (purpureus in Latin) appearance of its pages, the codex is one of the oldest surviving illuminated manuscripts of the New Testament. The manuscript is famous for its prefatory cycle of miniatures of subjects from the Life of Christ, arranged in two tiers on the page, sometimes with small Old Testament prophet portraits below, prefiguring and pointing up to events described in the New Testament scene above.


The now incomplete codex contains the text of the Gospel of Matthew and the majority of the Gospel of Mark, with only one lacuna (Mark 16:14-20).[1] Probably it had companion second volume which is apparently lost. Like the Vienna Genesis and the Sinope Gospels, the Rossano Gospels are written in silver ink on purple dyed parchment.[2] The large (300 mm by 250 mm) book has text written in a 215 mm square block with two columns of twenty lines each. There is a prefatory cycle of illustrations which are also on purple dyed parchment.

It contains the Epistula ad Carpianum, tables of the κεφάλαια (tables of contents) before each Gospel, τίτλοι (titles) at the top of the pages, numbers of Ammonian Sections, and references to the Eusebian Canons.[1]


The text of the Codex agrees generally with the Byzantine text-type in close relationship to the Codex Petropolitanus Purpureus. The Rossano Gospels, along with the manuscripts N, O, and Φ, belong to the group of the Purple Uncials (or purple codices). Aland placed all four manuscripts of the group (the Purple Uncials) in Category V.[3]

In Matthew 1:11 it has the additional reading τον Ιωακιμ, Ιωακιμ δε εγεννησεν (Joakim, Joakim begot) — M U Θ f1 33 258 478 661 954 1216 1230 1354 1604 Lectionary 54 syrh geo.[4]

In Matthew 23:25 it reads ακαθαρσιας for ακρασιας, a reading supported by Old Latin, the Syriac Sinaiticus manuscript, and Coptic version.[5]


Currently the manuscript is dated by the INTF to the 6th century.[6]

The codex was discovered in 1879 in the Italian city of Rossano by Oskar von Gebhardt and Adolf Harnack, in the sacristy of Rossano Cathedral.[1]

On 9 October 2015 the international UNESCO Committee, inscribed the Codex Purpureus Rossanensis in the register memory of the world, in Abu Dabi.[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Gregory, Caspar René (1900). Textkritik des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1. Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung. p. 92. 
  2. ^ Metzger, Bruce M.; Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (4 ed.). New York – Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-19-516122-9. 
  3. ^ Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1. 
  4. ^ UBS3, p. 2.
  5. ^ UBS3, p. 66.
  6. ^ "Liste Handschriften". Münster: Institute for New Testament Textual Research. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Codex Purpureus Rossanensis  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

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